(Video and Text)
“As women, we come from the womb and carry the womb. We give birth from the womb and can find ourselves born into the womb of Being… As women, we have great capacity for patience, for nurturing, for love. A contemporary male Sufi teacher once described an ideal guide as one who is like a mother — one who is always there, without demands, willing to instruct and set limits, but also willing to stay up all night to nurse a suffering child.”
(Camille Adams Helminski, Women of Sufism: A Hidden Treasure, 2003)
The legend Dancer was created as a follow up to the Mshanga/Orupa Mchikirwa instillation—a series of photographs that interrogated nuances in gender, generation, and poverty. The work features a video documenting a performance of a person in spinning motion. It works with the idea of a spin at three levels—spinning out of control (the failure to keep it together), spinning for meditation (to regain the state of total calmness like in Sufism), and the spinning motion of the ‘Mshanga’ around the waste to protect this starving woman who has to keep it together for the survival of her family. The video is accompanied by text by Demere Kitunga, my mother, who writes about her legend dancer, Orupa Mchikirwa, my great grandmother.